Friday, May 31, 2013

Thumbs up for Women

It must have come as a pleasant surprise that three women from PKR were selected to be Selangor executive council members together with three others from DAP and four from PAS. Dr. Daroyah joins rank with Elizabeth Wong and Rodziah Ismail in an all-women three-member team after being sworn-in at the palace today. PKR Selangor had fielded six women candidates for its state seats, out of which five won. Twelve others from PKR who won are men.

In contrast, Penang has only one woman exco which is held by Chong Eng, the DAP state assemblyman for Padang Lalang. During the 13th General Elections, PKR Penang fielded a total of two women candidates for the Penang state seats, out of which only one succeeded - Dr. Norlela Ariffin from Penanti. Nine others from PKR who won are men.

The vast difference in women representation within PKR is largely attributed to the role of women in politics in these two states. At the same time, it must be lauded that Tan Sri Khalid has no qualms appointing an all-women team while putting aside gender bias. This goes to show his appreciation and awareness of a woman’s capabilities and contribution to the society. 

As a party helmed by a woman president, Dr. Wan Azizah, PKR is nonetheless a women-friendly party in a male dominated arena. Although Azizah did not contest in any seats, her influence as president presides in the hearts of all women as a symbol of strength and determination for those who seek justice.

Following in her footsteps is her daughter, Nurul Izzah, the giant slayer who won over the hearts of Lembah Pantai voters defeating Raja Nong Chik from Barisan Nasional.

While Selangor has no shortage of women leaders, Penang PKR is sorely in need of qualified and dedicated women who are willing to step forward to serve the public. Building up the women’s presence in politics is no easy task owing to multiple factors such as cultural and religious beliefs, family responsibilities and financial independence. 

Although women make up roughly 52 percent of the total voters, participation of women in politics is low. Given the diverse role a woman has to partake in, a career in politics may seem rather unattractive unless she is driven by a cause – a cause to speak up and better the lives of all other women. 

Zuraida Kamaruddin, chief of PKR Women’s Wing is one such lady who inspires and incites women to rise to the challenge when faced with one. Not unlike Nusaybah, her bravery and courage to speak out however, has earned her severe criticism from both within and outside the party. The Wanita national committee, with a team of about 60 core members nationwide is tasked to rouse the women’s confidence and raise awareness of a woman’s role in the society.

In committing to the women’s agenda, the women’s wing should be given ample voice in decision making within the party. As said by two PKR leaders recently, we are a reform party. As such, let us leave no room for cronyism and nepotism. For a young party to grow effectively, it is best to keep unwanted elements from creeping into the organization. 

At the same time party leaders should be sensitive enough to employ tactile strategies to strengthen the party in anticipation of GE-14 – don’t render it useless the years of hard work that has been put in by party elders to build the divisions and branches, youth wings and women’s wings just so that their voices are finally drowned out due to the lack of empathy and sensitivity towards hardcore supporters and party workers.

It is without a doubt that meritocracy, experience and formal qualifications included, holds the key to any politically appointed posts. Therefore more effort should be put in to recruit qualified people to allow them to practice serving first. If an organization is largely fueled by passionate activists who work endlessly and tirelessly, only to have their glimmer of hope fade into oblivion, it makes for undue stress and divide – something that can be avoided by nipping those hopes in the bud and with good management.

In other words, politics is only for those who have a cause and are willing to go the extra mile, ride out the bumpy road and with nothing to ask for in return - this includes activists, qualified persons, sidelined members and dropped candidates too. Anything and everything else is a bonus.

With that, heartiest congratulations to the three PKR women in the Selangor exco line-up.

* Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion and in no way represent the views of the party. I write this from the perspective of a third party and based on grouses that I hear from several sources.
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